We rely on your reports of any natural or wildlife related items of interest.
Please pass your reports to Iain, Jock or John. See our Contacts page for details
.

Latest News

If you wish to join our club (and new members are very welcome) you can now download an application form from here. The form is in Microsoft Word format so should be readily viewable. The forms will also be available per the usual outlets.

The Woodland Trust is running a 'Tree of the year' competition where the general public is invited to chose their favourite tree. A short-list of six entries has already been chosen and our local 'Gowk Tree' has made it to the short-list! Voting by the public is from Monday, 8th September, to Sunday, 26th October. You will be able to vote on-line at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/scottishtree. Postal votes will also be available and accepted during the voting period. Please vote for our famous oak. For those who haven't heard of the tree, it is an old Oak standing in the field of your right just after you cross the bridge at Station Park while leaving Moffat towards the motorway. We will add a link to an article about this interesting tree to our menu at a later date but, meantime, you can read it by clicking here.

Clicking on any image will give an enlarged version (maximum 640 x 480 pixels). Higher resolution images are available on request (subject to the copyright holder's agreement) - contact John for details.

2nd September 2014
We've received an email from DGERC asking for help in research into Ash Dieback. The text of the message is given below together with a link to an information file describing what to look for. Your help would be appreciated -
"Do you enjoy a walk in the woods? Or have Ash trees near your home?
If so you may be able to help with research into the causes of Ash-dieback which has become widespread in eastern England since 2012. The disease is caused by a fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (formerly known as Chalara fraxinea). Researchers at the John Innes Centre are studying the related fungus Hymenoscyphus albidus that occurs naturally with Ash trees but causes no problems to the tree and are looking for specimens from north west England and southern Scotland.

Details of what to look for, what to collect and where to send it are given in this pdf file."

22nd August 2015
A couple of more items from Dave -
BBS square and Stidriggs area - female Hen Harrier, pair of Stonechats, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 grey
Wagtails, Reed Bunting, 2 Siskins.
Stidriggs track -6 Wheatears, 1 Whinchat
Kinnel water - Sparrowhawk, 22 Sand Martins
Beattock Country Park - Pair Mute Swans with 7 large cygnets, Moorhen, Mallard with good size
young.
WCBS (Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey) butterfly survey on the BBs square, first visit - 270 Ringlets,
6 Small heath, 1 Meadow brown, 4 Green veined white, 3 Small white.

And from Iain -
Swifts will soon be gone but bred well as regularly I saw 40-50 birds over Moffat. With Osprey breeding close to
Moffat they are regularly seen over the town. A White Tailed Eagle was seen locally on the 17th June over the Community Reserve before heading up Moffat Water. Barn Owls reared four young at Holmshaw, Beattock. Heath Spotted Orchids were present on the Reserve this year.

20th August 2015
Some sightings by Dave Bradshaw -
12/08/14 - Cornal Court, Beattock - 2 juv Willow Warblers
15/08/14 - Earshaigs - Meadow Pipit 18, Chaffinch 4, Swallow 16, Goldfinch 10, Stonechat 3, Song thrush 3, Mistle thrush 2, Blue tit 5, Willow Warbler 7, lots of juveniles and a singing male, Robin 6, Wren 2, Spotted Flycatcher 4, G S woodpecker 2, Goldcrest 3, Buzzard 4, Sparrowhawk , Kestrel , Jay, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Siskin 15, Carrion Crow 2.
Crooked road - Pied Wagtail 8, Meadow Pipit 7, Buzzard 3, Swallow 9.
08/08/14 - at my garden feeder I had 25 House Sparrows.

At our reserve this morning, still quite a few Dragonflies, Damselflies, Darters and Chasers going about on the Middle and Woodland Ponds.

2nd August 2015
Our meetings schedule for the forthcoming season has now been organised and you can view it on our Events page.

Our main item of news is that our President 'Jock' Dicerbo has decided to stand down. Jock has been President of the club ever since its formation in 1961. His all-round knowledge of the natural world has been a great benefit to the club and will be sorely missed. By unanimous agreement among the committee, we would like Jock to continue as Honorary President instead!

As most of you will be aware, this has been an unusually good breeding year for most of our common garden birds. House Sparrow numbers have rocketed - and there are still new broods appearing! Blackbirds have done well as have the Robins, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and Great Tits. However, it isn't all good news - there seems to be a significant drop in Swallow and House Martins.
At the Reserve, it is good and bad. Mallard have been abysmally poor this year (in fact the first brood was seen only a few days ago), something that seems to be happening all over the country for reasons unknown. A few Teal have made an appearance over the last week or so. Canada Geese set about nesting but then abandoned. Treecreepers have all but vanished for some reason but other small birds have been fine. Moorhen have done very well indeed with a few different broods coming through. Our Sand Martin bank has also been a great success with some two dozen or so nests this year. Tawny Owls raised two young successfully and our Barn Owls have also done well again.

There has been quite a few sightings of Red Squirrels in the town, possibly due to disturbance by the timber operations on Gallow Hill. Sightings seem to be in areas where there are tree corridors to the Gallow Hill and Tank Wood - Beechgrove, Old Well Road and Greenwood Close for example. Very entertaining to watch them raiding the bird feeders! Interestingly, there has been two probable sightings of Pine Marten in Greenwood Close this summer, one a brief visual sighting in daytime, the other caught on John's 'trail camera' during the night. These are likely 'wanderers' from a colony not far east of Moffat. Pine Martens do prey on squirrels but Red Squirrels are very nimble creatures and hard to catch. Greys are more cumbersome and make for much easier prey for the Pine Martens, a good natural control!

Work at the reserve continues of course. Some new paths have been laid (we've run out of wood chips so temporarily at a halt), including one going all around the Middle Pond which is great for seeing Damselflies, Dragonflies, Darters and Chasers (and Water Vole if you are lucky!). Bridges, sheds, hides and seats have all been repainted. An old shed in fairly good order has been donated and is under construction now near the orchard area. This will conveniently hold a few tools so save us from having to carry them all that way! New picnic tables have also been installed. With good pathways and plenty of places to sit for a while, it's a great place to come for a leisurely visit complete with flask and sandwiches!

12th June 2014
John had another squirrel in his garden in Greenwood Close this morning. However, the good news is that this time it was a Red Squirrel performing acrobatics to reach the peanuts. It is welcome back any time! Not the best picture but it was taken through the double-glazing.

7th June 2014 (replacing 6th June entry)
A Red-breasted Goose was seen at our Reserve today, apparently keeping company with the Canada Geese and a Greylag. This goose is a native of Eurasia and is seldom seen in Britain (even if it is an escapee rather than a truly wild one). There were a few sightings at Caerlaverock in April. To have one on our Reserve is quite something! The photograph is by John Ramsay.

22nd May 2014
Update from Dave Bradshaw - checked the nest boxes at Bankend for the first time on Friday(16th).
9 of the 12 new boxes put up are occupied and bits of material in the other 3. Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher are back in the wood but have not heard Willow Warbler yet which is normally present by now. On first check Great Tit is up two on last year and Blue tit up by one on last year.
Went up to Stidriggs this morning (18th) to do the early visit on the BBS survey. While walking in the track to the start point as I reached it a Male Black grouse flew up from the field on the left hand side. First time seen in this section of fields. I viewed a Cuckoo on the top of a tree over on the edge of the Ae forest calling and flying. BBS transect 3 had 1 male Whinchat, trans 5 had 2 male Whinchats and trans 6 had 1 male Whinchat so again at least 4 male Whinchats on the square. Had a pair of Grey Wagtails with 2 newly fledged young and a female Goosander on the River Kinnel. The bad news is there are no house martins at Stidriggs farmhouse today so if that stays like that it has gone from 27 nests to slightly less last year to none this year and nothing has changed at the farmhouse habitat wise.
Update from Iain - Mid-April to 21st May.
At Dyke Farm Nature Reserve on 16th April were Swallows, Sand Martins, three singing Chiffchaff and four Willow Warblers. There were 7 Canada Geese around with two Greylag Geese. A few days later there were three Mute Swans and the first Blackcap had returned. The first Swifts were over Moffat on the 2nd May and several moved through the Reserve the following day. Usual assortment of records of House Martin and Swallows and at the Reserve the Sand Martin colony is thriving again with around 15 active nesting holes which is really encouraging. The Starlings have used three or four of the nest boxes we have put up for them and there are now plenty young Starlings in the fields. Our Barn Owls have hatched their young and hopefully they will have a good season. A pair of Tawny Owls are rearing their family next to the big Work Shed. Stock Doves occupy a good few nest boxes too and Tits and Nuthatch are also breeding in them though we have not counted them yet. Butterflies are around with Orange-tips and Small Tortoiseshell being seen with damselflies. Tadpoles from Frog and Toad and Palmate Newts thrive in the ponds with other pondlife and Jock has an aquarium set up in the Woodland Hide for visitors to enjoy. Roe Deer, Red Fox, Weasel and Rabbits among numerous small mammals have been seen lately. We continue to work away and we have planted a small area next to the Middle Pond with wildflower seed so we hope they will put on a good show later in the season. In early May, Jock photographed a Hobby at the Community Reserve flying over the lochan which was a really good sighting. On the 17th myself, John Smith and Jon Haydon saw a Red Kite fly over the woodland at the Reserve which was a real thrill and my first local sighting of this amazing bird. Also present at the Reserve that day was a small flock of nine geese comprising of seven Canadas, a Greylag and a Pink Footed Goose.....pretty good! Spotted Flycatchers were observed nest building on the 21st near the Woodland Hide. Andy Dickson had two pairs of Tree Sparrow nesting in his garden in nest boxes though one was unfortunately predated by a Weasel. Bird numbers in gardens are obviously much reduced but Goldfinch, Siskin and Lesser Redpoll have been seen lately in good numbers.
And from John - my Italian update for 2014 has been modified slightly since first posted. Should have mentioned that it has a selection of photos of plants that I would like identified - a challenge for all you botanists! Go to Articles on the menu at the left, choose Italian Wildlife and you will find a link to the update at the top of the page, the plants are at the end of the page. Also had the misfortune to see a Grey Squirrel in the our garden last week but there has been no sign of it since (trail camera has been watching too!).

4th May 2014
Our Coffee Morning held yesterday raised just over £1800 for the club funds. This is wonderful total and our sincerest appreciation goes to all who dipped deeply into pockets and purses to achieve this total. We thank all of you for your support. We especially thank all those who contributed to the various stalls and those who gave up their time to working 'behind the scenes' on the day. The wonderful carving, by Peter Bowsher, was won by Hazel Hastie so it will remain 'local'.

On the wildlife front, we had a report of a Barn Owl having been killed on the road near Dyke Farm. However, it proved to have actually been a Tawny Owl. Sad for the Tawny but a relief for us as we feared we may have lost one of 'our' Barnies.
And an unusual one, on Thursday an animal was seen running along a fence between Greenwood Close and Markland. From size and description it may have been a mink but most probably was a Pine Marten. There is a population of these not far away so probably one of those out for a wander - looking for Grey Squirrels with a bit of luck!

And finally, an update to John's Italy wildlife observations has now been posted. Go to Articles on the menu at the left, choose Italian Wildlife and you will find a link to the update at the top of the page. The opportunity was taken to rectify a couple of small errors and omissions in the original (2013) article,

13th April 2014
Late March/early April update from Iain -
On the 22nd at the Reserve were 4 Oystercatchers, 2 Canada Geese, 2 Greylag Geese flew over and a mixed flock of 3-400 Fieldfare and Redwing were around. While at Bankend Wood on the 24th Dave Bradshaw saw a Grey Wagtail and Garry Tait had a Peacock butterfly round Toot. Two days later an impressive flock of 56 Whooper Swans were on the lochan at the Community Reserve with 2 Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe. Four Common Gull were at the Reserve with a male Sparrowhawk and a few Meadow Pipits passing over. While walking beside the River Annan at Brydekirk on the 28th Anne and Howard Gibbard saw some Sand Martins and an Otter. On the 30th I had a reliable report of two Green Woodpeckers visiting a garden near Craigielands at Beattock while a pair of Reed Buntings were at another garden at Meadowbank Rise. On April 2nd a Sand Martin appeared at the Reserve with 2 Chiffchaff calling. Many Pinkfeet moving over and plenty Fieldfare and Redwing in the area too. At the Community Reserve on the 4th were 4 Shoveler and the first Osprey arrived back up Moffat Water. Scott and Janet Little saw the first Swallow along the cycle track at Beattock on the 8th. The following day at the Reserve were 2 Sand Martins and 7 Canada Geese and a Cormorant flew over with 3 Chiffchaff calling. I saw an Osprey near Crawford on the 10th and on Saturday 12th at the Reserve there were 5 Sand Martin, 4 Swallows moving through and still Chiffchaff but no Willow Warblers yet. The Canada Goose is sitting tight on her nest at our reserve and the Oystercatchers are still showing interest in the new gravel island. A ringed Lesser Redpoll was in a garden at Meadowbank Rise among a small flock of 4 Lesser Redpoll and many Siskins.

This will be the last update for two weeks - John off to Italy again - so just a reminder that our Coffee Morning is on Saturday, 3rd May at 10.30am. We greatly value your support so please come along and bring plenty of cash to spend!

5th April 2014
Spring migration is well under way. Whooper Swans passing through, various geese heading north, the first Sandmartins have arrived, Chiffchaffs heard calling, etc. A pair of Canada Geese seem to be taking up residence on one of our islands, Oystercatchers are frequently overhead, possibly evaluating the isalnds, but they haven't yet dispersed for nesting. Most resident birds are either already nesting or preparing to nest. Some good weather would help immensely!

27th March 2014
Have received the annual (2013) mammal report for D&G from Andy Riches, the area mammal recorder. You can view it by clicking here. It is in PDF format so Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view it. Please allow time for it to load as it is quite a large file.

15th March 2014
Despite the apparent absence of frogs in John's pond, a considerable amount of spawn appeared overnight from Wednesday/Thursday. Around 30 frogs appeared briefly on Friday evening but no more spawn evident so far. Andy Dickson reported lots of frogs on the road on his way in to the club meeting on Friday evening. Some frog activity and spawn on the Reserve ponds today.
Little new on the bird situation, a few more sightings of Blackcap and first sighting of Wheatear so our summer migrants are on the way. Expect to see Sandmartins any day now. Garry reports that Ravens are already sitting on eggs. Animals are also becoming more active, quite a few Badgers seen around Ballplay Road lately.

11th March 2014
John had a male Blackcap in the garden yesterday. Apparently one has been seen by Ann Murray in her garden on Well Road over the past week or so, possibly the same bird.
Dave Bradshaw saw two Hedgehogs feeding below his bird feeder on Sunday morning so they are coming out of hibernation.
There are also a few sightings of Bumblebees on the go so the fine days are bringing them out now.
Still very little frog activity at John's pond - only 3 or 4 seen so far.

9th March 2014
From Jean Hunter-Grant, Hoppertitty, Beattock on Friday 7th - First appearance of frogspawn this morning in both ponds in the garden and lots of frog activity. Last year it was the beginning of April.
(No sign of frog activity yet down at the reserve or in John's pond - shouldn't be long now)

1st March 2014
Jock Dicerbo, our President ever since the Wildlife Club started in 1961, reached his 80th Birthday two weeks ago (15th Feb). By way of a celebration, the committee laid on a small get-together that night. We presented him with a carving by Peter Bowsher depicting a Gannet, much to his delight. There were numerous photos taken and these have now become available so here is a very small selection of them. It was unfortunate that not all committee members were able to attend as, by all accounts, it was a very enjoyable evening.

20th February 2014
Another update - last Sunday/Monday, Jean Hunter-Grant while walking her dog Nell, spotted nine Grey Herons alight from a small pond between Milton Farm and Murthat. Also in the area was a small roost of 26 Starling using a fir tree to roost in. This morning, 20th February, Garry Tait was at the Community Reserve and there were 30 Oystercatchers, with a dozen or so using the floating rafts, and 6 Lapwing in the area which was good to see.
John noted today Song Thrushes singing away heartily, one on the trees bordering Merkland & Greenwood Close, another on the trees beside Mill Green on Well Road.

19th February 2014
There are signs that birds are starting to pair off, a Woodpecker was heard drumming at Dyke Farm today and a number of Oystercatchers were heard calling over the town tonight. All signs that spring just might be on its way - or is that wishful thinking?
Our Reserve Development page has been updated with a summary of recent work.

18th February 2014
As most of you will be aware, this has been a very quiet winter season for bird sightings. Here is a summary from Iain on what little has been reported to him so far this year -
Since the start of 2014 there have been a number of people reporting very small numbers of Bramblings visiting their gardens. On 6th January, Scott Little had 5 Lesser Redpoll in his garden at Beattock. A fortnight later Scott saw two Oystercatchers down the APR Road and Garry saw one passing over Moffat on the 28th. Garry reported a number of Red Kite sightings between Moffat and Lockerbie. Clive Ottowell had two good sightings of a Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail at Lochbrow on the River Annan near Johnstonebridge. At the Reserve on the 29th two Raven flew over while a Kestrel has been wintering in the area. On 1st February Grace Saunders from Beattock reported a Brambling in her garden and on the 7th Garry had a flock of 17 Brambling near The Yett farm at Johnstonebridge. At the Community Reserve two or three Oystercatchers have been using the floating rafts while small numbers of waterfowl can be seen at times including Mute Swans, Goosander, Cormorant and Tufted Ducks.

4th February 2014
Andy Riches has sent the annual reports for Castle & Hightae Lochs for 2013. These have been posted and you can view them here. They are all in PDF format so Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.
Castle & Hightae Loch LNR Report 2013
Monthly Maxima Castle Loch
Annual Maxima Castle Loch
Andy is asking for any last records to go into the 2013 D&G County Mammal Report. If you have any records that you want included that have not already been sent to him then now is the time! Reports of all mammals, from mice to stags, are welcomed - they all go to making up the full picture. You can email reports to dgmammals@aol.com

Also John has now posted his graphs for bird sightings in Greenwood Close for the five years of 2009 through to 2013 and has expanded it a little from previous years. This is also in PDF format.
Greenwood Close Birds

The long spell of wet weather has hampered work down at the reserve lately. However, numerous nestboxes have been refurbished and put up, along with a number of brand new ones. We have also made a start gravelling one of the islands but this will be a long job!
On the wildlife front there has been very little to report. Our winter visitors have been conspicuously absent this year although still a few Fieldfare going about.

5th January 2014
The recent spell of atrocious weather has done no serious damage on the reserve. There has been some flooding but, beyond dislodging some pathway logs, has been fairly minor. We have been painstaking in keeping our drainage ditches clear and it looks as if that has made a huge difference.
Recent work (beyond replacing logs!) has been on replacing old nestboxes and adding some new ones. The 'boys' seem to be doing fine without John's help (suffering from a back problem!).
Numerous smallish flocks of geese were seen this morning over Moffat, going in a northerly direction. It is likely that their normal feeding areas are waterlogged and they are seeking new ones. It is a bit early for migration yet.

11th December 2013
Another bird has been added to our lists - a Dipper was seen on the reserve this morning. This is quite unexpected as the habitat is not one that these birds are likely to visit, they prefer fast flowing water..

All the earlier entries for 2013 have been moved to the Archives.